Grand Opening for the Little Library that Could…

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Video includes the grand opening celebration. Article was written before the event.
January 24, 2013 | 4:48pm

At only 854 square feet, the Lincoln Acres Library was the smallest of all the County’s library branches. But that didn’t stop this library from keeping up with the big boys.

This little pocket library in the little pocket community of Lincoln Acres (just 227 acres) offered a teen book club, video game tournaments, weekly story times, personal growth classes, programs in Spanish and weekly Conversation Cafes for people wanting to practice their English skills. Oh, and free access to more than 33 million books, DVD movies and music CDs.     

Imagine what this library can do at triple the size. A new facility now stands at 2725 Granger Avenue and measures about 2,750 square feet. The number of library materials jumped from 8,000 to 12,000. While the doors opened in November, the grand opening celebration is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Supervisor Greg Cox visits the area often and is thrilled for the community. 

“This new facility gives students and families a place to study, read, play and exercise,” said Supervisor Cox. “It’s a home away from home.”

“It’s beautiful inside and out!” said Branch Manager José Ocadiz.

Visitors will see soaring ceilings and expansive windows that splash natural light on to the interior, lounge seating, a meeting room, a space devoted to children and another one for teenagers. Next door, small offices were set aside for the Lower Sweetwater Fire Protection District and the Sheriff’s Department. A large community room was also built at the site for parties and other events and can be reserved through the Parks Department.  

The entire structure was built to Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED standards for sustainability. That means solar panels, motion sensor lighting and sustainably-harvested wood among other features. Outside, native vegetation surrounds the building. 

Back inside the library, one change from the old library becomes immediately obvious.  The library stacks of the past are gone.

“It’s called the library of the future,” said Assistant Branch Manager Lisa Eribez. “You can see across the whole floor.”

Eribez says the teenagers immediately gravitated to their area complete with funky seating and a large TV for Wii games and movies. The children’s section features a large colorful area rug and giant soft toys that double as furniture. A computer station for older kids allows them to play games without being connected to the Internet. A crafts station lets them express their creativity.

Visitors can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi. No laptop? No problem. 

“They love the novelty of laptops that can be checked out and used here,” said Eribez.

Paulina, 14, did just that after a sick day from school. She checked out a laptop to email her teacher and find out what she missed so she could catch up on her work.

“It’s quiet here and I have my own space to do my own stuff,” said the teenager.   

The neighborhood school offers group tutoring at the library two times a week. One mom took time out to read while waiting for daughter. Elba Martin likes everything about the new library saying ‘it’s so comfortable.’ Her nine-year-old daughter Melanie, however, can’t wait for a break in the tutoring so she can hit the playground.

Lincoln Acres County Park is still just steps outside the library door and features playground structures and new basketball courts. The courts are also open for large events.  

The existing playground and former library had become a community center for the small, low-income neighborhood and the construction of the new library hasn’t changed matters.

“Even though it’s brand new and modern, it’s still cozy and quaint,” said Eribez. “We know most visitors by name.”

The new facility is also drawing new customers.

“They’re welcome and they feel welcome,” said Carol Casares, President of the Friends of the Lincoln Acres Library. “This library shows them hope for the future here.”